« AnteriorContinuar »
to reft upon the following grounds : The first effect which this was likely to flow from this Address was immediate peace, without which there was no hope or chance of salvation. Under the present Administration, was there any man so fanguine as to suppose that peace could be obtained. He should not notice the miserable farces which, under the name of negotiation, had been acted at Balle and Paris, nor the unsuccessful journey of Mr. Hammond to Vienna. But was there a Noble Lord in that House, or a man in the country who did not feel immediately upon the Emperor's concluding a separate peace, a negotiation Ihould have been epened at Paris for the purpose of securing a peace for this country? If we had nothing but our financial embarrassments to contend with, common prudence would have dictated such a measure. But this was not the most forcible argument upon whlch it rested. It was unnecessary for him to call the attention of their Lordships to circumstances, in the present state of the country, of greater moment and far inore prffing urgency. Besides the effect of immediate peace, the measure would be productive of the most beneficial consequences upon the kingdom at large. Their Lördships were not unacquainted with the present critical situation of Ireland. The great body of those who had been a few years ago friends to Parliamentary Reform and Catholic Emancipation, were now united with the few, who at that time wished a separation from this country: and a great party, under the name of United Irishmen, were at this moment ready to join any standard under which they could find relief and protection. The dismissal of his Majesty's Ministers would be followed by concessions to the disaffected in that kingdom, which operating in conjunction with the restoration of peace, would allay discontent and remove the dread of a separation. The system of Ministers was calculated to produce that unfortunate event, and the delay of peace went in aid of the other measures which they were pursuing.
His Lordship next considered the effect of the Address upon the Inand of Great Britain. He did not think that the opinions for the suppression of which we had gone to war had lost any ground in the course of the last five years. He did dot fuppole it would be contended, that these opinions, had suffered much from the influence either of our arms or our laws. Did they not see, he asked, that revolutionary opinions, and revolutionary measures were gaining upon them every hour! Some great change, he ventured to predict, was near at hand. That change, whenever, it should happen, or of whatever nature it should be, he trusted would tend to the advantage of the country. Had they really so little discernment to suppose, that the people would submit to live under a Constitution without inquiry, which, in the course of five months, had brought upon them calamities unprecedented in their nature, incalculable in extent? He was not so unreasonable as to suppose that a war of great and unexampled magnitude could be conducted without a vast expence : but he was unreasonable enough to expect that Parliament should exercise fome control over that expence. He wished to pals no heavier censure upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer than the Chancellor of the Exchequer had passed upon those Ministers who had gone before him. How far that censure extended, their Lordships would see by recurring to the Report of the Committee of Finance in 1782, which he recommended to their perusal. They would there find that Mr. Pitt, had made grievous complaints against all the systems of finance which had ever been acted upon, and to which he himself afterwards recurred. They would there find that extraordinaries were called little less than money raised without the confent, and expended without the knowledge of Parliament. They would find in that Report the conduct of the former Adminis ftration condemned upon examination, and the conduct of the present condemned in anticipation. To all the other defects, therefore, which the measure proposed by the Noble Duke would produce, would be a correction of the extravagance in blood and treasure, for which the present, beyond all former Administrations, had been distinguished.
There was another topic upon which he found himself called upon to lay a few words, namely, the expediency of a Reform in the Representation of this Country. He had long differed upon this subject with Gentlemen for whose opinions he had a great respect ; and though many of his doubts were removed, and he had by no means the same terror of the plan as fome others, he confessed he was not a convert to the measure. He considered it as a remedy weak and ineffectual for the complicated evils of which they had to complain, and therefore he could not recommend it as a cure for the disealed state of the Common. wealth. He beseeched their Lordships, however, to weigh well how they voted on this evening. He beseeched them, if they disfented from the Address, not to be contented with merely negativing it. If they approved of the system upon which Ministers had been acting, he beseeched them publicly to announce it, and to say fomething in their favour. Their cause, he alsured them, needed support. He entreated them to proclaim, if they thought so, that their conduct had been able, upright, and ceconomical, that their alliances had been well chofen, and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been right in promifing to pay the advances from the Bank to Government, and in breaking his engagement as often as it was made. If, however,
they treated this Motion with silent contempt, or got rid of it by a simple negative, he should feel it ridiculous to propose any other incalure, or to trespass upon their patience with a repetition of the same proposal, till he had some better prospect of success.
Lord Auckland observed, he differed ro extremely with the Noble Lords who argued for a Reform of Parliament, that he thought it useless to trouble the House by a minute discussion of a subject which had been so frequently the topic of public animadversion. He controverted the financial statements of the Noble Duke who brought forward the Motion, both with relpect to the total amount of the expences of the war, and to the produce of the respective taxes. There was, in his opinion, one source from which the present gloomy situation of affairs might be justly supposed to originate. It was an easy task to depreciate the value of the advantages possessed by the nation, and to represent matters totally contrary to what they in fact were. To that fixed system of apparent despondency and artificial melancholy, assumed for the purpose of introduing new principles, he would, without hesitation, ascribe a considerable part of the momentary embarrassinent of the country. But while our navy, our army, and our trade, were under-rated in that false estimate, which was alone conducive to the introduction of anarchy, the Noble Lords who talked in such melancholy strains seemed to forget that we had destroyed the navy, the commerce, and the foreign poffeffions of France. Hecould not, therefore, too pointedly reprobate a system which raised the power of the enemy at the expence of our own, and in which the poverty of the country, not the opulence of it, was continually held out to inspire sentiments incompatible with English glory and indepena dence. It formed, howevever, a subject of infinite consolation to him, that the desperate and gloomy state of the nation was only to be found in the desperate and gloomy speeches delivered in Parliament.
The Earl of Suffolk wished to know, whether the Noble Secretary of State meant to perfevere in silence? If he had no intention of answering those important questions which had been put to him respecting the state of the Sister Kingdom, he felt himfelf called upon by a sense of the duty which he owed to his King and Country, to communicate to the House and the Public, the private information which he had upon the subject.
Í'he Noble Earl having sat down, no reply was made by Lord Grenville, but there was a general call for the question. )
The Earl of Suffolk said, he could not fuffer the question to he put without communicating to the House the information No. 41.
which he had from a respectable quarter about the state of Ireland. He should therefore read a part of a Letter upon that subject, which he had received from Brigadier General Cooke, an officer of acknowledged worth and talents.
Lord Si dney doubted much of the propriety of the Noble Earl reading a part of a Letter from a private friend of his own, which was not written with a view to be laid before the House.
The Earl of Suffolk replied, that that ought to be left to his discretion, and proceeded to read the Letter, in which Ireland was stated to be a really almost in a state of insurrection ; that, “ whenever the sword was drawn, all was over; and that the “ country was not in a much better state of defence than before u Christmas.” , The Earl of Westmoreland called the Noble Lord to order, as giving the opinion of a military officer upon the insufficient state of the defence of Ireland.
The Earl of Suffolk declined proceeding with the Letter, as the House did not seem disposed to receive the information it contained.
The Marquis of Lansdowne expressed his surprise that Minifters would not give the public any satisfaction upon subjects fo interestiiig to the country, and that they even carried their dil. position to secrecy so far that they put a negative upon information, when it was offered from another quarter. As they had, however, been so forward in suppressing the information which was dilinterestedly offered by his Noble and Worthy Friend, who had just sat down, te did not consider it as presumptuous to expect that they would have the gracious condescention to give what they themselves thought lase to be given. He wished rather to hear than to speak, and he had come down on this day, preposiessed with an idea, that some notice would be given by his Majesty's Ministers, that a negotiation had commenced between this country and France, or at lcast that overtures for a negotiation had been made. Had this been announced, he should not have troubled them on the present evening: he confefied that he had no other ground for the supposition, than general report, which to a willing mind was often apt to go for more than it was worth. What could retard propositions for nego tiation, he was utterly at a loss to divine; the original causes of the war no longer existed; we had no longer the opening of the Schelde to relist; the fate of the Low Countries, he was a fraid, was already decided's deserted by all our allies, we had only our own interest to care for; the cause of the delay, there. fore, to him, was utterly inexplicable. Ministers furely could not be absurd enough to be waiting for the mediation of fome
Northern Northern Power, who knew nothing about the settlemen ia which were to be the subject of discussion between this country and France; besides, in nine cases out of ten, these mediations tended rather to retard than accelerate the objest to which they were directed. Allies now we had none! God knows we had had enough of them! He trusted that they had not the madness to attempt to make Austria renew the contest. He reminded them of the bad faith of the allies with which we had acted before, notwithstanding the firm persuasion expressed by his Majesty's Ministers of their undoubted honour and sincerity; he remembered its having been stated, that it was quite imposible for the King of Sardinia to desert us. He was told also that the Ministers of his Prussian Majesty were the best and most honourable Ministers in Europe! When he had talked of a subsidy being sent to the King of Prussia, Ministers exclaimed, « Subfidy! do you call it a subsidy? It is a cheap economical contract.” They had had plenty of contracts of this nature; whether it was a cheap one or not he could not say ; perhaps it was more economical than some of those which had been entered into in St. Domingo. Austria, our most faithful ally, had also deserted us. But perhaps it might be said, “It is an ill-wind that blows nobody good,” and that as we have hitherto been sending money out of the country, we may now expect that it will return. He expected to hear that the Bank of Vienna, upon the return of peace, would have resumed its payments, and that not only the interest of the money we have lent to the Emperor will be punctually paid, but that the capital will be gradually liquidated. « Not one word says the Noble Secretary to this," exclaimed the Marquis. “ I see he smiles, however. It is really good fun! Well he may laugh at having fu dexterously cheated the country out of fix millions of money, and the country deserves to be cheated while they submit to be taxed in wind and in air without one murmur against the authors of the oppression.”
The Marquis said, he was decidedly of opinion, that propofals for peace should be fairly and openly made ; and.if in that case they were rejected, the people might arm unanimously, as they would then know what particular objects they had to fight for. Since the loss of our Allies, the question was indeed brought to a small compass between us and France. The present calamities might be all traced to the mysterious conduct of his Majefty's Ministers. In the late business of the Seamen, that kind of state mystery had particularly prevailed which uniformly proved mischievous to the community. He would maintain that Loyalty was the chief feature of that valuable class of men, and they carried their idea of it so far that it became a necessary ingredient in their songs, and in all their merriment. They of
9 L 2 .